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Theater Talk: Over the Tavern's Tom Dudzik remembers Jeanne Hebborn Cairns


Playwright Tom Dudzik remembers Buffalo actress Jeanne Hebborn Cairns who originated the role of "Sister Clarissa" in his play OVER THE TAVERN. She went on to perform it in a variety of cities and her style became iconic.

As reported in Anthony's blog, theatertalkbuffalo.com, the daughters of Jeanne Hebborn Cairns report that the actor, surely a Grand Dame of Buffalo Theater, has died after enduring dementia for many years. No funeral or service are planned at this time.

Winner of the Artie for Career Achievement Award in 2002, Jeanne was honored during Curtain Up! week in September, 2019 with induction into the Theatre District Association's Plaza of Stars. She now has a star in the "Plaza of the Stars" (which can be seen on the median where Tupper Street crosses Main Street in front of Shea's 710 Theatre, also known as "the old Studio Arena Theater").

Credit theatertalkbuffalo.com
Jeanne Hebborn Cairns at her 2019 induction into the "Plaza of the Stars" near the theater where she originated the role of Sister Clarissa in Tom Dudzik's play OVER THE TAVERN."

A member of the first resident company of Studio Arena Theatre, her many stage achievements including originating the iconic role of Sister Clarissa in Tom Dudzick's homage to Buffalo, OVER THE TAVERN. If you're curious, the venue at which she originated Sister Clarissa, which might be called "the old, old, Studio Arena" is across Main Street, and now is the home of the Town Ballroom.


Ujima  is back with a new production  and  is excited to present their latest stageplay, PLAYLAND, by Athol Fugard – the first in a 3 play One Act Series. (Some audience members may recall a fairly recent production of Athol Fugard's MASTER HAROLD AND THE BOYS which The Shaw Festival presented in both Niagara on the Lake as well as at Shea's 710 Theatre in Buffalo.)

This play, PLAYLAND, is directed by Phil Knoerzer, Ujima Company alumni member, featuring Ujima Company members Gerald Ramsey and Ben Caldwell.

The production will be live Streaming  January 29 and 30 at 8p.m. and January 31 at 4p.m.

Purchase tickets now at https://www.onthestage.com/…/ujima…/playland-970693

Credit www.ujimacoinc.org/ujima-on-demand
PLAYLAND by Athol Fugard begins streaming tonight from Ujima and Company.

PLAYLAND is set in 1989 on New Year’s Eve   in  a  traveling amusement park. Two strangers meet in the dead of night in the heart of rural South Africa. With the country in the grips of the brutal apartheid regime, Playland promises an evening of thrills and laughter that never materializes.

This is a play about guilt, self-loathing, and the elusive nature of absolution in a racially divided world. Martinus Zoeloe, a Black South African, the amusement park’s night-watchman meets Gideon La Roux, a White Afrikaner and ex-serviceman who comes along looking  for a fun night out. They find themselves face to face and their encounter is charged with history and danger.

There are, of course, subtexts of racial prejudice, as one would expect from Fugard, but the true underlying concern in this masterfully written production, is about how we come to terms with the ghosts (and sins) of our pasts.

Special Series Deal- Watch a show for FREE!*  Purchase a ticket for all three shows and pay the price of two! (Single Show – $15 / Three Shows – $30 *Save $15*)

More info at www.ujimacoinc.org/virtual-season


Second Generation Theatre and Theatre of Youth have collaborated to create an interactive theatre experience for theatre patrons ages 5-12. ONCE UPON A TIME was written by Philip Farugia, Kelly Copps and Amy Jakiel and is a 40-minute musical interactively presented via ZOOM. ONCE UPON A TIME follows traditional fairy tale characters as they learn about inner strength and becoming the heroes of their own stories.
An upbeat, high energy musical with a captivating original score, ONCE UPON A TIME empowers children to proudly be themselves. The virtual show runs February 13-21. You canreserve your tickets at TheatreofYouth.org


Credit Dennis Oulds/Central Press, via Getty Images
From the NYT: Cicely Tyson in London in 1973. She was critical of films and television programs that cast Black characters as criminal, servile or immoral.

As heard Thursday afternoon on WBFO during ALL THINGS CONSIDERED in a report by Elizabeth Blair: Cicely Tyson, Who Brought Grace And Gravitas To The Screen, Has Died At 96

From The New York Times: "Cicely Tyson, the stage, screen and television actress whose vivid portrayals of strong African-American women shattered racial stereotypes in the dramatic arts of the 1970s, propelling her to stardom and fame as an exemplar for civil rights, died on Thursday, January 28.  She was 96.

Her death was announced by her longtime manager, Larry Thompson, who provided no other details.

In a remarkable career of seven decades, Ms. Tyson broke ground for serious Black actors by refusing to take parts that demeaned Black people. She urged Black colleagues to do the same, and often went without work. She was critical of films and television programs that cast Black characters as criminal, servile or immoral, and insisted that African-Americans, even if poor or downtrodden, should be portrayed with dignity.

Her chiseled face and willowy frame, striking even in her 90s, became familiar to millions in more than 100 film, television and stage roles, including some that had traditionally been given only to white actors. She won three Emmys and many awards from civil rights and women’s groups, and at 88 became the oldest person to win a Tony, for her 2013 Broadway role in a revival of Horton Foote’s THE TRIP TO BOUNTIFUL.

At 93, she won an honorary Oscar, and was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame in 2018 and into the Television Hall of Fame in 2020. She also won a career achievement Peabody Award in 2020."



Listen for Theater Talk, Friday morning at 6:45 and 8:45 during Morning Edition.
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